Older drivers should make car adaptations to stay safe, AAA says
Nearly 90 percent of older drivers do not make inexpensive adaptations to their vehicles, ones that can actually improve safety an extend their time behind the wheel, according to new research from AAA.
So seniors are being urged to consider making those necessary adaptations to their vehicles in order to reduce crash risk.
Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs and government relations for AAA Northeast, says senior drivers are some of the safest drivers on Jersey roadways.
"However if they're injured, they're more likely to sustain serious or life-threatening injuries. So that's why it's important to make sure they are seated correctly and they're using these adaptations to keep them safe," says Lewis.
Those adaptations include seat cushions which can improve line of sight and even help alleviate back or hip pain. Convex mirrors help improve visibility and minimize blind spots. Steering wheel covers improve the grip for drivers with arthritic hand joints. Lewis says pedal extenders are important because they keep drivers away from the steering wheel to prevent airbag injuries in a crash.
Vehicle adaptations also benefit a senior's mental health. One of the greatest fears seniors have is that someone is going to take away their car keys.
"So when you make those adaptations, they are more confident behind the wheel and they are safer. That goes a long way toward helping their mental health, helping make sure they feel confident and safe behind the wheel and also that they continue to have that freedom," says Lewis.
Research from AAA also finds that seniors who stop driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times more likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who drive.
Lewis says many seniors may feel uncomfortable having the conversation about making these changes to their vehicle. But they need to understand that it's not about taking away their keys. It's actually about keeping them on the roads longer so making these necessary adaptations will do that.
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